Sunday, 16 May 2010

Do Bonobos Communicate No By Shaking Their Head?

This question has recently been studied by Christel Schneider, Josep Call & Katja Liebal in the journal Primates (Do bonobos say NO by shaking their head?) (link).

The researchers have filmed Bonobos appearing to 'say no' by shaking their heads. Videos of this behaviour were captured at Leipzig Zoo in Germany. The gesture was noted in bonobos on a number of occasions when they wanted to prevent others from doing something they did not approve of.

It has been suggested that this behaviour may be an evolutionary precursor of the very similar human behaviour.

Abstract from article in Primates - Do bonobos say NO by shaking their head? - by Christel Schneider, Josep Call & Katja Liebal (link).
Head-shaking gestures are commonly used by African great apes to solicit activities such as play. Here, we report observations of head shaking in four bonobos apparently aimed at preventing the recipient from doing something. This may reflect a primitive precursor of the negatively connoted head-shaking behavior in humans. Further investigations are needed to clarify the preventive function of head shakes and their evolutionary role in the evolution of negation in humans.
Bonobo - Christel Schneider - Gesture - Head Shaking - Josep Call, Katja Liebal - Leipzig Zoo - Primates (Journal)

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